HL Deb 06 August 1888 vol 329 cc1661-74

Application of Act to Boroughs.

Clause 31 (Certain large boroughs named in the schedule to be treated as counties) agreed to.

Clause 32 (Adjustment of financial relations between counties and boroughs) agreed to.

Clause 33 (Provision as to police and rateable value) agreed to.

Clause 34 (Application of Act with modifications to county boroughs) agreed to.

Clause 35 (Application of Act to larger quarter sessions boroughs not treated as counties) agreed to.

Clause 36 (General application of Act to boroughs with separate commission of the peace) agreed to.

Clause 37 (Application of Act to quarter sessions boroughs hereafter created) agreed to.

Clause 38 (Application of Act to smaller quarter sessions boroughs with population under 10,000).

On the Motion of The Lord BALFOUR, Amendment made, after ("1882") in sub-section (b), by inserting as a separate paragraph— The council of the borough shall be a highway authority, and the borough a highway area within the meaning of the Highways and Locomotives Act Amendment Act, 1878.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 39 (Application of Act to boroughs with population under 10,000).

On the Motion of The Lord BALFOUR, Amendment made, in page 33, line 22, at end of line, by inserting as a separate paragraph— (1.) The urban authority for any borough or town with such population as above in this section mentioned shall cease to be the local authority under the Acts relating to explosives, and the county council shall have the like authority under the said Acts in the said borough or town as they have in the rest of their county.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Application of Act to Metropolis.

Clause 40 (Application of Act to metropolis as county of London) agreed to.

Clause 41 (Position of city of London) agreed to.

Clause 42 (Arrangement for paid chairman and sitting of quarter sessions for London).

On the Motion of The Lord THRING, Amendment made, in page 38, after ("area,") by inserting— Upon the hearing of any appeals in relation to property in the city of London, such two members of the court of quarter sessions of the city of London as may be appointed by that court for the purpose shall be entitled to attend and sit as members of the quarter sessions for the county of London.


, in moving to leave out ("recorder,") and after ("judge") add— And from and after the next vacancy no recorder shall exercise any judicial functions unless he is appointed by Her Majesty to exercise such functions, said, he thought the City of London had been somewhat severely dealt with in the House of Commons with regard to the appointment of Recorder. He thought it hard that because it was considered desirable to remove the judicial powers from the Recorder, therefore the Corporation should lose the power of appointing the Recorder, an officer required for other duties in the City than that of Judge at the Central Criminal Court. He proposed this Amendment which, he thought, would do only justice to the Corporation. With regard to the Common Serjeant, the City did not attach so much importance to the office as they did to that of the Recorder, and they were not disposed to press their views in opposition to the views of the House of Commons.

Amendment moved, In page 39, line 4, leave out ("recorded,") and after ("judge") add ("and from and after the next vacancy no recorder shall exercise any judicial functions unless he is appointed by Her Majesty to exercise such functions.")—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)


asked what other duties did the Recorder discharge besides those of a judicial nature? He did not object to the Amendment of the noble Marquess, if the duties to be discharged were to be limited as suggested.


said, the Recorder attended as Law Officer on the Corporation, and discharged a great many other duties besides those connected with the Central Criminal Court. The Amendment would only secure for the City the right which every other Municipality had of appointing a Law Adviser.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 43 (Grant by London county council to poor law unions) agreed to.

Clause 44 (Transfer of duties under 32 and 33 Vict. c. 67, of clerk of metropolitan asylum managers) agreed to.

Clause 45 (Adjustment of land as to slaughter-houses in the metropolis) agreed to.

Application of Act to Special Counties and to Liberties.

Clause 46 (Application of Act to certain special counties).


said, he moved to insert "and the eastern and western divisions of Suffolk," thus creating two separate administrative counties in Suffolk for the purposes of the Act.

Amendment moved, in page 40, line 30, after ("1865") insert ("and the eastern and western divisions of Suffolk").—(The Marquess of Bristol.)


said, he might, perhaps, be allowed to make some remarks on the Amendment moved by his noble Friend behind him, as he had been Chairman of Quarter Sessions for the Eastern part of the County of Suffolk for more than 18 years. He would not follow the noble Marquess into the historical part of the question. This was purely a matter of sentiment; he respected it; but this Bill appeared to him to be peculiarly inapplicable in dealing with the matter of sentiment, as it did away to a great extent with the power of Quarter Sessions—a most ancient institution. No one of their Lordships would, however, for a moment bring such an argument forward as an argument against the passing of the measure. The question of the division of Suffolk was one of great local importance. He would go as shortly as he could into the practical history of the case. In East Suffolk the opinion was unanimously in favour of one County Council for the whole county. The opinion was in favour of the Bill as it was introduced by the Government, and as it was passed by a majority of 27 in the House of Commons. The noble Marquess had spoken of the number of Petitions he had presented in favour of the division. He had presented many Petitions from East Suffolk—from Samford, from Ipswich, Hartismere, Hoxne, Lowestoft, Blything, Woodbridge, and the Stow market Local Board. The noble Marquess spoke of the Stow Board of Guardians being in favour of his proposition. The proposition had been three times before the Board, which carried a resolution against it once, then reversed it, and a few days ago were equally divided. All the Members for East Suffolk and the Members for Ipswich were in favour of one County Council, the Court of Quarter Sessions the same, and, in fact, all East Suffolk were in favour of this view; while West Suffolk were not unanimous. Near Ipswich they were in favour of the view held by East Suffolk, and one of the Chairmen for West Suffolk—Major Barnardiston—was strongly in favour of the view he (Lord Henniker) took. At the outset he would say that the inhabitants of East Suffolk had only one object—the benefit of the whole county. When he said that, he meant the great majority, which was even greater now than in 1881, as the population of East Suffolk was increasing, while the population of West Suffolk was decreasing. Even in 1881, the population of West Suffolk had decreased in 10 years by 2,064; while East Suffolk had increased by 7,580. He must explain that Suffolk was not like Lincolnshire. There was only one Commission of the Peace, the Courts of Quarter Session were held by adjournment from one place to another, the Court being held on the statutable day at Ipswich. Some years ago there were four Courts of Quarter Sessions and four areas of taxation; but Beccles and Woodbridge combined with Ipswich, and, although the same arguments were brought forward now as then, no inconvenience had arisen. On the contrary, the change had been a great benefit to all concerned. There were now several joint committees between the two divisions, and since the date of the amalgamation he had mentioned there was only one police force for the whole county. In all these matters the West Suffolk Court had been simply a Court of Record, and, if the Motion was carried, that would be continued. He wished to show the result of the partial amalgamation. Take the police for the first 13 years of amalgamation. East Suffolk saved £1,600 11s. 4d., and West Suffolk £4,487 12s. 0d. The rate in 1867–8 for East Suffolk was 1¾d. in the £1; in West Suffolk, 2½d. in the £1. In 1880–1 the East Suffolk rate was 1⅛d.; in West Suffolk, 1⅝d. in the £1. That proved how much West Suffolk profited. Again, the coast line was the improving part of the county; while West Suffolk was purely agricultural—decreasing, as everyone knew, in value—so amalgamation must be of service to West Suffolk, as they would profit by the increased rateable value. At one time there were three gaols in Suffolk, which cost £4,680 a-year. Now there was only one, which cost £2,662, or less. But he went further. He believed joint action was a great saving, as the force of example was of great service. What had been the result of this small amalgamation? In 1867–8 the rate in East Suffolk had been 2d. in the £1, in West Suffolk 3d. In 1873–4 2½d. and 2d.; and in 1880–1, 1½d. and 1¼d., so that one division benefited in 1873–4 and both divisions profited in 1880–1. Whatever the causes were, it was fair to say joint action had done good. However, he looked more to the principle and the example than to figures. Some years ago there was a partial amalgamation of two Unions. Sentiment came in there, but was set aside. The amalgamation had been successful. These were both small amalgamations, but were fair arguments to bring forward in favour of the one County Council he and those who acted with him wished to see formed. He was not in favour of too large areas, too much centralization; but to show that he was not speaking without consideration, he would compare Suffolk to other counties. In Suffolk there was a population of 356,863 by the last Census, where there were two Courts of Quarter Sessions. In Essex, a neighbouring county, there was a population of 575,930, with one Court; in Norfolk, another neighbouring county, a population of 444,825, with one Court for county affairs and two for criminal business; in Stafford, 981,385 popula- tion, with one Court. In 1882, there was called in Suffolk a general Court of Quarter Sessions; a committee was appointed to consider the question of amalgamating the county of Suffolk. This committee was appointed to please the West Suffolk magistrates, and they had a majority upon it. They were convinced that the proposal was a right one, and so reported to Quarter Sessions, where the report was carried. However, there was an Act passed to serve Suffolk, at the instigation of the then Chairman of Quarter Sessions, Mr. Austin, the well-known Parliamentary lawyer, in which it was laid down that a resolution should be carried at each Court in favour of amalgamation, so as to make sure that the separate rating of the different divisions should not be in the way. That Act had never been used in any case since; but it defeated the majority of the inhabitants of the county, as the small number of magistrates around Bury, and the small number of inhabitants who had taken the matter up, refused to pass a resolution—a Resolution which was only necessary for county affairs. This was the position up to now. One word as to general convenience and distance he might be allowed to say. Of course, if one place was pointed to, Ipswich, the great county town, must be the place of meeting. So many went there from all parts of the county that the inconvenience would be little; but, after all, the number of County Councillors would be small, and surely they would be ready to make some sacrifice in the public service to reduce the rates for the benefit of everyone in the county. As to distances, there were many convenient trains to and from Ipswich to West Suffolk, and that had more to do with the matter than the actual distance now-a-days. Ipswich was a railway centre, the most important centre on the Great Eastern Railway; it was 26 miles from Bury St. Edmunds—one hour by train at most; Lowestoft, now in the Ipswich Quarter Sessions district, 48 miles. No inconvenience had been complained of in this respect. New market was 40 miles only from Ipswich, and was the most extreme point of West Suffolk; in fact, partly in Cambridgeshire. The question of distance was not one of any importance. It was said that the business would all be managed on one side of the county; but their Lordships knew quite well that the business always fell to the lot of a few of the best business men to transact. There was a safeguard, too, that if the county was rated at one particular place, the whole county would be rated, and so no injustice as to expenditure could be done. He must repeat what he had said before—there was no desire except to benefit the whole county. The proposition now before the House was one to retain all that could benefit West Suffolk, without thought of East Suffolk. For example, it was proposed to take part of East Suffolk into West Suffolk by altering the boundaries, giving to West Suffolk an extra £50,000 of rating basis. However, if sentiment was to prevail, East Suffolk hoped to be entirely separate from West Suffolk, except so far as the County Lunatic Asylum was concerned, as the Western Division had a property in this. The East Suffolk people wished the boundaries left as they were; but he (Lord Henniker) hoped their Lordships would not alter the Bill or the decision of the House of Commons.


said, that the noble Earl who was so shocked earlier in the evening at the Government leaving the matter an open question would be again horrified when he stated that the same thing was going to happen again. This point was an open question in their Lordships' House as it had been in the House of Commons. Though the noble Lord who had just sat down was a Member of Her Majesty's Government, he should be under the necessity of voting in the opposite Lobby. He did not intend to argue the question, which was an absolutely local matter; but he might say that he had received two deputations, one from East and the other from West Suffolk, who had argued the question at much greater length than it had been discussed there. Under these circumstances he had formed the best judgment he could, and, considering the existing difficulties of access, and, he might add, the peculiarities of the Great Eastern Railway—his own railway—he thought that his Friend the noble Marquess had made out his case.


opposed the Amendment. He said that a large majority of the inhabitants of North, East, and South Suffolk were practically unanimous in favour of retaining the unity of the county, while only a small minority of the residents in West Suffolk were in favour of separation. The great bulk of residents of all heads of political opinion were opposed to the separation. He maintained that no good or substantial reason had been shown for the proposition.


said, that, as a landowner in Suffolk, he had gone into this question with considerable interest. The bulk of his land was in East Suffolk, but it was far from him not to recognize the strong claims of West Suffolk to individual county machinery. He trusted that their Lordships would take the opportunity of amending a serious local error in the other House and would agree to the Amendment.


pointed out that, as regarded the magistrates, Suffolk was divided into three parts, and not two.

On Question? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 59; Not-Contents 20: Majority 39.


, in moving that the soke of Peterborough and the residue of the county of Northampton should be respectively separate administrative counties for the purposes of the Act, said, that there was no Opposition of any kind to this proposition in the county.

Amendment moved, In page 40, line 35, at end of line, insert as a separate paragraph.—"The soke of Peterborough and the residue of the county of Northampton shall be respectively separate administrative counties for the purposes of this Act referred to as divisions of the county of Northampton."—(The Marquess of Exeter.)

Amendment agreed to.

On the Motion of the Earl of CRAWFORD, Amendment made, at the end of Sub-section 5, by adding— And subject as aforesaid the position and salary of any such chairman or justice (in the county of Lancashire) shall not be affected by any provision of this Act.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 47 (Saving for Manchester Assize Courts Act, 1858).

Sub-section 2 omitted.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 48 (Saving for salaried chairman of quarter sessions in Lancashire) struck out.

Clause 49 (Merger of liberties in county).

Amendment moved, In page 44, line 9, after ("this Act") insert—(5.) "Provided always, that if before the 31st day of December, 1888, application is made to the Local Government Board by the quarter sessions of the county of Kent, and by the town councils and local boards of such of the Cinque Ports, and their liberties and members as are situate within the county of Kent, or any of them, that a separate county should be formed for the Cinque Ports, the Local Government Board may make a Provisional Order forming such county, which shall be called 'the county of the Cinque Ports,' and which shall include such of the Cinque Ports as are situate within the county of Kent, and such of the liberties and members of the same, and such parts of the county of Kent adjacent to such Cinque Ports, liberties, and members, as may seem necessary or proper to the Local Government Board for the purpose of making the area of the county of the Cinque Ports self-contained and convenient for administrative purposes. With the consent of the quarter sessions of the county of Sussex, and of the town council of the borough of Rye, such Order may include within the county of the Cinque Ports the borough of Rye and such parts of the county of Sussex adjacent to the said borough as to the Local Government Board may seem necessary or proper. The Provisional Order may contain such provisions as may seem necessary or proper for regulating the first election of the county council, for providing that the area proposed to be included in the county of the Cinque Ports should continue to form part of the county of Kent, or the county of Sussex, as the case may be, until a date named in such Order, for the adjustment of property and liabilities between the county of the Cinque Ports and the counties of Kent and Sussex respectively, and generally for making the provisions of this Act applicable to the county of the Cinque Ports."—(The Earl Granville.)


regretted that it was not possible to accept the Amendment. The Cinque Ports were not contiguous to each other, and there was no bond which united them, and their case was not analogous to the two divisions of Suffolk, or the Soke of Peterborough, which had just been before them. The proposed area would take an undue proportion of the rateable value of the county of Kent. Nor did the noble Lord propose to take all the towns, as some of them were situated in Sussex. The proper course to take would be to apply for a Provisional Order under Clause 8 of the Bill, but he did not hold out any hope that it would succeed.


regretted that the Government could not accept his Amendment. There was much to be said in favour of not absorbing the Cinque Ports into the county. For more than 500 years they had been separate, and 11 out of the 15 boroughs in Kent were in the Cinque Ports. The opinion of all who were most competent to give an opinion was that there never had been any difficulty with regard to the administration of the Cinque Ports, and that no difficulty was anticipated if the Amendments were carried. It was difficult for those who did not reside in the Cinque Ports to understand the amount of feeling that existed in view of the proposal to absorb them in the county. The Justices of Kent had expressed themselves in favour of the Amendment, believing that if the Cinque Ports were created a separate county, it would be of advantage for themselves and the whole of Kent.


strongly supported the claims of the Cinque Ports to be made a county of themselves. He felt all the more bound to do so because he had studiously refrained from taking part in the local agitation upon the subject. He earnestly begged their Lordships' attention to this point. If the proposal of the Bill had been to merge the Cinque Ports entirely in the county, and, saving present rights, to abolish this separate jurisdiction, the issue would have been comparatively simple. On the one side there would have been the strong local opposition to the abolition of an ancient institution, whilst upon the other it would have been urged that considerations of practical utility and of economy pointed to the consolidation of separate jurisdictions in the same county. But that was not what was proposed. The ancient jurisdiction of the Cinque Ports was to be preserved, so that whatever of inconvenience now existed on account of the clashing of authorities, would continue to exist, whilst for the first time the inhabitants of the Cinque Ports would be liable to county rate and to serve on county juries, so that the proposal of the Government was really not one in the direction of consolidation but confusion. Take, for instance, the question of Police; as the Bill stood, Sandwich and Hythe, with populations under 10,000, would have county police—whilst Dover, Ramsgate, Margate, and Folkestone would have their own police. How much better and more simple it would be to have an amalgamated force, one Cinque Port county police and one Cinque Port county rate. The Cinque Ports had already an organization of their own, and the Government were proposing really to alter matters, not in the way of consolidation, but in a manner that could be productive of no final settlement of the question. Moreover, whilst the sentiment in the Cinque Ports themselves was strong and undoubted, what had been the action of the County Authority outside the Cinque Ports? He (Lord Brabourne) had that day presented a petition from the Justices of Kent signed by the Chairman of General Sessions, praying that their Lordships would adopt the clause of the noble Earl. Now, if the Government wished the Bill to be workable, they must endeavour to make it popular, and seeing there was a strong local sentiment in favour of the claim now made, he saw no reason why it should not be conceded. The only valid reason for which so strong a local sentiment could be opposed would be founded upon considerations either of symmetry, of economy, or of convenience. As far as symmetry was concerned the Government had cut the ground from under their feet, not only by concessions made to other counties, but by the fact of their having taken Canterbury out of the county, and Hastings, one of the Cinque Ports themselves, out of the county of Sussex. As to economy, who were so well able to judge of the probable economical results as the Justices of the county of Kent, who had hitherto had the management of the county finance, and who had actually petitioned in favour of this clause. Moreover, if its adoption should cause any expense by the creation of new officers, that expense would fall upon the Cinque Ports, who would have no right to complain, and who were perfectly ready to undertake it. As to convenience, surely the inhabitants of the localities affected should be the best judges, and these were the people who desired the adoption of the clause. Therefore, alike on the grounds of symmetry, economy, and convenience, he maintained that the position taken up by the Government could not be defended. In assenting to this clause—which was merely a permissive one—the Committee would not be going so far as had been done in the case of the county of Suffolk or in that of the county of Northampton. His noble Friend (the Marquess of Bristol) had spoken of the diversity of interests between sea board towns on the West Coast of Suffolk and the interior of the county. It was the same in Kent, and the Cinque Port Coast towns and the interior part of the county felt alike that they ought not to be united. Under the proposed clause nothing could be done unless the Authorities, both of the county and Cinque Ports, agreed to apply to the Local Government Board, and every opportunity would be given for so forming the Cinque Port county as to make an intelligible and workable arrangement. His noble Friend (Lord Henniker) had deprecated sentiment on such matters, but he (Lord Brabourne) hoped the day was far distant when England would be governed only by stern logic to the exclusion of sentiment. He had only lately been reading Lord Palmerston's speech at his inauguration as Lord Warden, in which he said that nothing dignified men more than an honourable attachment to ancient institutions. This was the sentiment of the inhabitants of the Cinque Ports, and it was one which was honourable to them, and to concede to which would be no dishonourable concession.


stated that he was not surprised that the noble Earl and the noble Lord below, who had represented a cinque borough for so many years, had brought this Amendment forward. The noble Earl was under a misapprehension, for the question had never been before Quarter Sessions. A Parliamentary Committee had been appointed to map out and arrange electoral districts, and this Parliamentary Committee had no authority from the Court to petition Parliament; so that it was a mistake to say that the Justices were unanimous. He would be content to rest his vote on what fell from the noble Lord in charge of the Bill. The objections on geographical grounds, as well as the fact that this Amendment would take away from the county a large amount of rateable value, were, in his opinion, insurmountable.


, with all respect to the noble Viscount, submitted that his individual opinion was hardly worth that of all the magistrates who were present at Quarter Sessions and signed the Petition.


said, the Parliamentary Committee no doubt authorized the Petition, but not the Quarter Sessions. Though the clause was only permissive, it was a permissive clause of a very extensive character, and he was not prepared to assign to the Local Government Board the absolute control in this matter.


said, it was only fair that the action of the Kent Quarter Sessions should be rightly understood. They had appointed a special committee in April last to watch and consider this Bill, and on June 29th they had re-appointed the committee, and authorised them to take such additional steps as such committee might deem urgent, and the committee had deemed it necessary and urgent to petition in favour of the proposed Clause 7, and during the whole of this time and at the meeting on June 29 it had been perfectly well known that the agitation in favour of making the Cinque Ports a separate county was going on. There was, therefore, plenty of time and opportunity for anyone to have objected, and he thought it rather hard for noble Lords to come down now and disavow the action of their regularly appointed committee.


observed, that the noble Lord had stated that the proposed clause would be merely permissive; but for his own part he thought that it would practically amount to a somewhat peremptory direction. What they were now asked to make into a county had never been an administrative area. With regard to the question of expenses, one of the great objections to this proposal was that a district containing a large amount of the rateable value of the county would be taken out of it, and the proposal would thus be unfair to the remainder of the county.


said, that he was always unwilling to put their Lordships to unnecessary trouble, and he knew that it was running his head against a wall to go to a Division against the Government; but he was encouraged by the fact that the noble Marquess had announced that this was an open question.




In these circumstances, he would ask their Lordships to divide upon the question, as he hoped that noble Lords would decline to follow so inconsistent and illogical a course as, after agreeing to the separation of East and West Suffolk against the wish of the former division, to divide in the opposite sense when both parties had petitioned for the separation.

On Question? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 32; Not-Contents 35: Majority 3.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 50 (Power to make Provisional Order for Scilly Islands) agreed to.

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